Just a month after re-opening for park guests, Walt Disney World is re-strategizing as they forge a new path amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. This week, Disney World has announced they will be adjusting the operating hours at all four theme parks at the Orlando resort. The move comes at the same time Disney CEO BobChapek went on record saying some park guests are reportedly canceling their trips and billions of dollars lost in the first months of park closures.
As reported via The Hollywood Reporter, Disney World will be opening and closing Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and the Magic Kingdom within an hour or two of the previous hours. However, the hours for the first Disney World location to re-open, Disney Springs, will be unchanged. These new hours across the various Disney World locations will take effect on September 8 and are expected to last through October. It’s unclear if there are plans to revert to the previous hours or further adjust after October.
Image via Walt Disney World
News of these adjusted hours arrives just one month after Disney World completely reopened to guests on July 11. Upon re-opening, it was made clear new health and safety protocols would be in place, like wearing face masks, in order to keep guests safe from the potential spread of COVID-19. The move was monumental, with Disney keen to re-open following a four-month shutdown in the early days of the pandemic which left the company working hard to re-assess how to survive this unprecedented event.
The impact of the pandemic on Disney’s finances has been incredible. During an earnings call last week, it was revealed (via USA Today) the company lost nearly $5 billion in losses in April, May, and June. Additionally, Chapek has noted during that same call (via CinemaBlend) how the second wave of COVID-19 sweeping through the nation as the summer comes to a close has affected guest reservation habits. He shared, “Unfortunately, [COVID-19] struck again and all the numbers started going up. This gave some level of trepidation to travelers that were anxious about long-distance travel getting on a plane and flying to Walt Disney World. So what we’ve seen is that we’ve had roughly 50% of our guest base still traveling from a distance…We’ve also had a higher than expected level of cancellations once somebody does make a reservation because as the disease ebbs and flows they might necessarily cancel.”
Allie Gemmill is the Weekend Contributing Editor for Collider. You can follow them on Twitter @_matineeidle.
Here are the new hours announced earlier this week (all times in ET):
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (previously 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (previously 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
EPCOT: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (previously 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.)
Magic Kingdom: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (previously 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Disney Springs: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (hours remain unchanged)
Disney will release its live-action film Mulan online through its Disney Plus service on Sept. 4, but it won’t be included as part of a standard subscription. Mulan will cost $30 in the US in addition to Disney Plus‘ regular subscription fee, and it will be priced at roughly the same amount in international markets where it’ll be available online too, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of countries in Western Europe.
Mulan, which Disney originally slated for theaters in March but had to push back the release date multiple times because of the coronavirus, will be released as what’s known as premium video on demand. Typically, that means a high-priced rental, but Disney will give customers access to watch Mulan indefinitely as long as they keep their Disney Plus subscription active. You’re essentially buying the brand-new movie, rather than unlocking a one-time rental.
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Don’t get your hopes up yet that other mega-budget films — like Marvel‘s Black Widow with a theatrical release date set for Nov. 6 — necessarily will follow the same quick path onto your living-room TV. The company characterized Mulan‘s release as a onetime deal, though it could serve as an experiment that guides its future release decisions.
“Mulan is a one-off,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Tuesday during a call that discussed the company’s fiscal third-quarter results. “That said, we find it very interesting to be able to … learn from it and see what happens, not only in terms of the uptake of the number of subscribers that we get on the platform but the actual number of transactions on the Disney Plus platform that we get.”
It will be offered exclusively through the company’s Disney Plus streaming service, seemingly holding out from other popular stores for online rentals like Apple’s TV app, Amazon Video and others.
The company will also release Mulan theatrically on Sept. 4 in markets where cinemas are open and where Disney Plus isn’t operating yet.
“We see this as an opportunity to bring this incredible film to a broad audience currently unable to go to movie theaters, while also further enhancing the value and attractiveness of the Disney Plus subscription with great content,” Chapek said.
The decision marks an unprecedented approach to releasing a big-budget movie that had been destined to be a blockbuster back when theaters were open worldwide. The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered cinemas around the globe and forced studios across the board to delay big-budget films for months and years, with no certainty in sight for when theaters can reopen at large or when audiences will feel comfortable sitting in windowless, enclosed rooms for hours.
It’s also a major defection from the rigid rules that usually keep new movies only in theaters for 75 days or more, as well as a surprising change to how Disney Plus has been pitched to audiences since it launched in November. Disney Plus is Disney’s online hub for streaming almost everything the company produces, but it was marketed as an all-you-can-eat buffet like Netflix, where your subscription unlocks everything on the platform to watch. Mulan will bring an a la carte transaction to Disney Plus that its 60 million subscribers haven’t yet encountered.
Disney’s changes underscore how disruptive the pandemic has been to Hollywood studios’ meticulously planned release cycles. With theaters closed and coronavirus preventive measures keeping people stuck at home, studios have mostly decided to keep pushing back the theatrical release dates for mega-budget pictures. But with their tentpole movies in a holding pattern, studios could be setting themselves up to all release a glut of movies on top of each other, crimping ticket sales.
Already, smaller-budget films began to go straight to online rentals or streaming services, such as Disney’s decision to release its Hamilton film and its young-adult sci-fi movie Artemis Fowl on Disney Plus rather than in theaters. And Universal has released new movies like DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour and others as special online rentals.
But Universal’s Trolls World Tour online release enraged cinemas, with US chain AMC even vowing it would ban Universal movies from its screens, including its blockbuster Fast & Furious franchise. Cinemas have doggedly clung to rules that keep new movies only in theaters for months, even as audiences have grown more accustomed to watching video when they want, where they want. Then last month Universal struck a deal with AMC to patch things up, promising to give theaters three weekends of exclusivity for new movies going forward in exchange for lifting the ban on its movies, a signal that cinemas are willing to compromise.
Disney, however, has been one of the Hollywood studios most dedicated to theatrical release. It’s decision to put out Mulan online reinforces the prospect that these alternative release strategies devised in the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic may have lasting effects even after cinemas start reopening at large.
Disney Plus’ standard subscriptions costs $7 a month, or $70 a year, in the US. In Canada, Disney Plus is priced at C$9 a month, or C$90 per year.
In countries that are part of the euro zone, it is 7 euros, or 70 euros a year. In the UK, it is £6 a month, or £60 a year. In Australia, it’s priced at AU$9 a month, or AU$90 per year, while New Zealand subscribers pay NZ$10 per month, or NZ$100 per year. In India, Disney Plus Hotstar is priced at 299 Indian rupees a month, or 999 rupees a year. In Japan, Disney Plus is 700 yen a month through an exclusive partnership with Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo.
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As Disney reopened their premier theme park, Walt Disney World, today in Florida amid exploding coronavirus numbers, social media immediately took the entertainment conglomerate to task by criticizing the decision to resume theme parks operations, calling it premature and risky.
Florida has now seen more than 250,000 total cases of confirmed coronavirus cases and has tallied more than 300 deaths in the last three days, with 11,000 new cases reported on today’s park reopening day.
I can’t say how utterly disappointed I am in Disneythey cater to Families and CHILDREN! At what point do they stop with money making and look after the families with CHILDREN?! Disney World reopens to the general public amid Florida’s surge in virus cases https://t.co/8EbU6EsU29
A Twitter user compared a photo of socially-distancing cast members released by Disney Parks before the opening and a photo from inside Disney World today.
Other early visitors were just happy to be back in the park after the long shutdown.
Walt Disney World, Prize Asset, Juggles Highly Anticipated Opening With Capacity Constraints, Caution
Some social media users took aim at the cheery “Welcome Back” videos Disney put out ahead of its world resort’s reopening. Remixing the park footage with eerie music, including the opening theme from horror classic The Shining, they reimagined Disney’s reopening as a sign of a dystopian present. See the pair of Disney videos and their dark counterparts.
With Minnie and Mickey, Josh D’Amaro waves to guests gathered on Main Street USA, in the Magic Kingdom in the final minutes before the park closed, Sunday night, March 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World announced that all their Florida parks will be closed for the rest of March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Walking up Main Street to Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida may look at little different in the wake of the coronvirus pandemic, but that doesn’t seem to be dampening the spirits of Disney’s cast members or its most avid fans.
“There’s a lot of trust here, both from our cast members and our guests, and we’ve got a responsibility to deliver on that trust,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products segment.
While D’Amaro declined to give specific ticketing numbers, he noted that guests are booking reservations to visit Disney’s parks and resorts as far out as 2021.
“People love Disney, they love the experiences here,” he said. “They understand the world is different, they are watching us put together these great plans and we are seeing them book for the near term and the long term.”
D’Amaro was officially named to the post of chairman in May, about four months after Bob Chapek departed the position to replace Bob Iger as CEO. He took the helm of Disney’s parks, resorts, cruises, experiences and consumer products a little under three months after the company was forced to shutter all of its theme parks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As Disney has prepared to reopen its parks, D’Amaro has spent the last week interacting with cast members and guests during soft opening events at its parks in Florida. He said that cast members are comfortable with Disney’s new safety measures, which include a mandatory mask policy and temperature checks, and that guests have been “cooperative” with the parks’ new rules.
At Disney Springs, which reopened in late May, “all guests are wearing their face masks and everyone understands their shared responsibility,” D’Amaro said.
Disney has employed specific cast members to look out for guests that “may have had a little slip up” and didn’t replace their mask after eating or drinking, D’Amaro said. Because of all the signage and communication from the company about expectations and rules, he doesn’t expect there to be too many incidents.
Disneyland in California is still awaiting guidelines from government officials before announcing its new reopening date, but guests can expect a similar set of safety measures in Anaheim, D’Amaro said.
Additionally, the construction of Avengers Campus, a new land that was slated to open in July of this year, “will definitely be moving forward” and is “looking fantastic,” he said. D’Amaro did not provide a specific timeline for when that new Marvel-themed land would open to the public.
On Saturday, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom in Florida reopen to the public, and will be followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15. Disneyland Paris is also slated for reopening on July 15.
“We feel really good about everything that is in place,” D’Amaro said.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.
“I kind of looked around and had a moment where I was like, ‘Wow. This is so terrifyingly normalized.'”
Demi Lovato just revealed that she chose to leave Disney Channel after checking out of rehab in 2010 and realising that eating disorders in the entertainment industry were “terrifyingly normalized”.
In a brand-new interview with Bustle, Demi opened up about having an eating disorder before she became famous. However, when she broke into the industry, she realised that many other people were in the same boat.
“I kind of looked around and had a moment where I was like, ‘Wow. This is so terrifyingly normalized,'” Demi said, explaining that a stint in rehab made her want to address the struggles she’d witnessed.
“I came out of [rehab] with the choice of talking about my struggles or my journey with the possibility of helping people, or keeping my mouth shut and going back to Disney Channel,” Demi went on. “I was like that doesn’t feel authentic to me. So I chose to tell my story.”
Later on in the interview, Demi added that she aspires to have a career “that has nothing to do with [her] body” and instead focuses on her music.
Had things gone according to plan earlier this year, Disney would have released its Mulan remake towards the end of March, and we’d probably be able to buy it digitally by now. But the global health crisis has resulted in a lot of movies being delayed, and while that led to in Mulanbeing pushed to the end of next month, the Mouse House has announced its pushing the movie back a little further.
Rather than release Mulan to the masses on July 24, Disney has decided to slot the remake for August 21. So for those of you who’ve been eager to see the live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated Mulan from 1998, you’ll have to wait a little over a month longer… assuming the movie doesn’t get pushed back again, which is certainly a possibility.
Here’s what Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios co-chairman and chief creative officer, and Alan Bergman, Walt Disney Studios co-chairman, had to say about Mulan’s latest delay (via THR):
While the pandemic has changed our release plans for Mulan and we will continue to be flexible as conditions require, it has not changed our belief in the power of this film and its message of hope and perseverance. Director Niki Caro and our cast and crew have created a beautiful, epic, and moving film that is everything the cinematic experience should be, and that’s where we believe it belongs – on the world stage and the big screen for audiences around the globe to enjoy together.
This news follows Warner Bros’ decision to push Tenet back to August 12. So rather than have Mulan come out first in July and have the latest Christopher Nolan flick follow a week later, the order of the two movies has flip-flopped for August. Again though, don’t discount that both Mulan and Tenet could be pushed back again in these uncertain times.
While various movies, including Trolls World Tour, Scoob!, The Lovebirds, The King of Staten Island and Artemis Fowl, shifted from big screen releases to VOD or streaming offerings, Disney is clearly still intent on showing Mulan in a theatrical setting rather than just make it available to digitally rent or throw it onto Disney+ right now. Those options will be available down the line, but only once audiences have flocked to see Mulan in theaters.
Mulan follows the same basic premise as its animated predecessor, i.e. a young woman disguising herself as a man to take her father’s place in the Imperial Army. However, in contrast with most of Disney’s modern remakes, Mulan is taking a lot of creative liberties, including most of the supporting characters being brand-new (sorry, folks, no Mushu in this one) and the story not being a musical. Along with Liu Yifei playing the eponymous protagonist, the cast includes Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Le, Yoson An, Gong Li, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao and Jet Li, among many others.
Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates concerning Mulan, and be sure to look through our comprehensive guide detailing all the other movies that have been delayed over the last several months.
The Walt Disney Co. DIS, -3.87%
is delaying the reopening of its California theme parks, including Disneyland, which had been scheduled to start reopening July 17. “Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials,” Disney said in a statement late Wednesday. It did not give a new reopening date, but said the state of California does not plan to update its guidelines on theme parks until after July 4. “Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date,” the company said. Disney still must negotiate with its unions before reopening, but union members have been critical of the company’s “rapid timetable” to reopen, especially considering the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Southern California.
Forrest Brown, CNNPublished 13th May 2020
(CNN) Shanghai Disneyland in China has cautiously opened back up, and that has raised hopes in the United States and around the rest of world for more reopened Disney parks that might be closer to home.
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As Disney announced their plans to reopen their Shanghai parks, Disney’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel gave an update on what you can expect once its other parks, resorts and stores reopen. The company is looking into phased reopening at all locations, whether it be a gradual reopening or partial for certain areas. That could include retail and dining opening before the theme parks. Hymel said Disney is working to manage guest density and social distancing with, not just restaurants and hotels, but queues and ride vehicles. The measure will likely include guest capacity that matches state and federal guidelines to keep visitors and employees safe. Disney is also looking into virtual queues for Disney World and Disneyland with the help of their app. Like most businesses, Disney plans to increase their cleaning and figure out where the high-traffic areas in locations are. As for screening and prevention of the spread of coronavirus, Hymel said they will follow the guidance from the government and the medical community when it comes to enhanced screening. That includes measures such as face coverings. Disney has already added extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations at resorts. Cast members will recieve new training and reinforcement when Disney locations get closer to reopening. “Given the constantly changing global health environment, these practices may evolve as we consider the latest guidance, but we will share more information with you as we look towards reopening,” Hymel said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming all of you back to our Disney parks, resorts and stores.”
As Disney announced their plans to reopen their Shanghai parks, Disney’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel gave an update on what you can expect once its other parks, resorts and stores reopen.
The company is looking into phased reopening at all locations, whether it be a gradual reopening or partial for certain areas.
That could include retail and dining opening before the theme parks.
Hymel said Disney is working to manage guest density and social distancing with, not just restaurants and hotels, but queues and ride vehicles. The measure will likely include guest capacity that matches state and federal guidelines to keep visitors and employees safe.
Disney is also looking into virtual queues for Disney World and Disneyland with the help of their app.
Like most businesses, Disney plans to increase their cleaning and figure out where the high-traffic areas in locations are.
As for screening and prevention of the spread of coronavirus, Hymel said they will follow the guidance from the government and the medical community when it comes to enhanced screening. That includes measures such as face coverings. Disney has already added extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations at resorts.
Cast members will recieve new training and reinforcement when Disney locations get closer to reopening.
“Given the constantly changing global health environment, these practices may evolve as we consider the latest guidance, but we will share more information with you as we look towards reopening,” Hymel said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming all of you back to our Disney parks, resorts and stores.”